Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've Missed You!

I hadn't practiced by myself in a while. Having league two nights a week and being out of town on weekends and being a little lazy (I admit it) I hadn't been to the pool room to practice my conditioning in some time. I think this is another reason why I didn't fair so well in my Feb and March tourneys.

Anyway, I finally got enough sleep for two nights in a row and felt energized enough to go to the lovely Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth to hit some balls last night. I walked in with my new Jim Buss, slipped on my ipod, grabbed some water, and started playing ten ball on the 9-foot table.

I worked on staying down, truly being aware of how my body feels to be still, and I worked on 3-ball shape. I was only there a little over an hour but it felt SO good!

I missed practicing!! It was a great feeling to hit balls by myself and work on conditioning. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aaahhh, the new Jim Buss Custom Cue has Arrived

Well, it finally arrived, and it took my breathe away! I designed this cue a couple of years ago, but the first version Jim made I didn't like the dark wood I chose nor the joint, so he had to start over. :( Yes, I am a tough customer!

This is my fourth* custom designed cue (*well, fifth design).

Here are the specs of the Jim Buss Custom Cue:
  • wrapless cue with curly maple for the handle
  • white butt cap
  • stainless steel joint
  • curly birds eye maple forearm
  • checkered rings
  • 12 3/4 shaft
  • 8 points. Long - outside in black white black veneer and bocote. Short - black veneer with white center.
  • For the butt sleeve - 4 diamonds to make a diamond. All Diamonds are white. Background of buttsleeve is bocote.
  • 18.5 weight.
And here is the photo of the cue (click on it to enlarge the photo):

It plays beautifully! I thought I would have a problem getting used to playing with a wrapless cue, but that is not the case! I am talking to Jim about maybe adding some weight to it, but it is a dream!! I love it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Straight Pool League

I keep hearing how straight pool will help my game; how fun it is; how addicting it is. Well, with the help of a friend, I was able to get on a Straight Pool League!

I have my first match tonight.

Can't wait!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scotch Double Minis

I was out of the BCA Texas State tourney on Thursday night and had LOTS of time to kill on Friday. I watched many awesome matches of friends (Rebecca, Juan, Cris, Danny, and Ernesto) while the day turned into night. In the afternoon, a friend from Dallas asked me if I wanted to play a scotch doubles mini tournament with him but I was too engrossed in watching the matches and didn't feel like playing right then.

A few hours later, another friend came running up to me and asked me to play scotch doubles - he seemed rushed and said there was only one spot left. I said yes. I felt honored of all the chicks in the room he ran up to me, because it was none other than the famous Dennis Strickland from Houston, Texas. He had just finished placing 3rd in the Masters division of the singles event and his brother (Barry) was playing the finals against young sharp shooter Sean Black (who won the singles Open last year here).

Dennis and I have known each other for years but never really had in-depth conversations before, but we always respected each other. I asked him for some advice on a shot in January and that kind of got us talking even more when we would see each other at tournaments.

He signed us up for the open scotch and I told him I'd rather play in Jack and Jill and so he moved us over to that sign up sheet. I found the other guy that had asked me earlier to play, and said I was sorry. I felt bad, but I honestly didn't feel like playing earlier in the day.

It took almost an hour to fill up the jack and jill scotch and they finally called our name. Not ever played scotch with Dennis before, I was nervous, wanted to show off, and yet wondered which shots he'd want me to shoot. I know already NOT to do that - to just play my game - but I still was a little apprehensive.

We played a team that we should beat 3-0 but found ourselves down 0-1! He said we needed to be careful and play our game and we ended up winning 3-2. We won the next match easily 3-1. In the 8-team event, we were already in the finals! First was $100 and second was $40 (entry was $20). It went hill-hill against a really good team in the finals (Helen and Ali) and we lost even though Dennis played AWESOME!

While this mini was going on - my buddy Juan had just placed 3rd in the singles and Dennis' brother Barry won the Masters - Dennis and I both were watching these two players from across the room wondering what was going on in their matches as we played in our little mini tourney. Congrat's to both Juan and Barry!

Dennis had already signed us up for the next mini (yay!) but I was bummed it would be the last tourney of the night. :( Being in the convention center (E-Center) with no windows doesn't allow one to figure out what time of day it is. Little did I know when would finish our second scotch doubles mini tournament it would be 230am!

We won the first match 3-1 and then played against the strong cutie-sexy-pie Yvette Reyes and her partner (Rick I think). We played well and won 3-2 I think. Dennis and I both were making really good shots and we had a few of his friends watching and that was awesome.

We had to wait a long time for the finals and ironically played my team captain Monica and my league teammate Ryan. It went hill-hill and a nice safety by me (hey, I actually "stopped" the cueball) allows us back at the table for the win.

While we were playing in the finals, Ernesto Bayaua won the men's singles event by double dipping Jerry Behnke in the finals. Ernesto played awesome and Dennis and I were applauding his win from across the convention center!

As I mentioned in my previous post about my singles event:
I can honestly say it's been a long time since I felt like this ---> after the tournament that I felt very down on myself and wondered what I was doing playing pool.

However, this feeling changed drastically after I played in two scotch double minis the next night.

And why did playing in these two Scotch Mini-tournaments with Dennis change my mental attitude? Well, several reasons. One, I saw how truly well a player can really play. I know he's a Master player and I know he plays well, but I haven't seen anyone play that well before in 6 games. He missed only one ball. Two, he nailed every straight-in, tough shot. Those shots I struggle with so it was very beneficial for me to see his approach to the shots, to see his confidence, to see him make every one of them. Three, because he plays so well, I found myself playing more and more confidently as the night went on. I found myself seeing shape like I only do when I'm on fire. His confidence led me to try the shots/the shape I know can happen but don't always play confidently to make. Four, he has a different attitude than I'm used to. I'm used to the soft attitude, play well, have fun, win, etc. He was all about making the money (lol), playing to win, not just having fun. Don't get me wrong, we still had fun (we had a blast!). I know I am not describing it well.... but it was the desire that I enjoyed seeing. It was that type of desire I think I needed to see!

It's very difficult to describe, but watching him play SO well, hearing his words and desire, nailing every shot he went for, makes me want to work on my game more. And I so needed that after such a sad singles tournament.

I am SO glad I was able to play with him. That experience and uplift will last a lifetime!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BCA Texas State Singles

Out of about 50 women, I placed 17th.

I wanted more sleep the night before, but I stayed at the convention center that Wednesday night a little too late to keep playing some good 8-ball against the great player Gordy VanDerVeer. He said after we finished that I was staying down well, which meant the world to me b/c I don't think he knew I had been working on that. I drove to my dingy hotel that was 5 miles away, at night, while it was pouring down rain. I was staying by myself until my roomie Amanda showed up on Saturday. While Killeen, Texas isn't a bad city, I swear I was staying on the wrong side of town. Eeeek. I played very well against that master player and felt confident as I *tried* to fall asleep.

I got to the convention center at a decent hour to watch a few men matches on those awesome Diamond Tables and then headed to my first match of this "title tournament" at 1030am. I found myself NOT nervous at all!

I missed some easy balls in this match against a very nice woman with very long nails (so long she asked me to put the coin in the slot for her during her break). My pattern was good, but missing balls almost cost me the match, but I played better as time went on and won 5-3 I think.

At 3pm I then played my friend Ashley next and she had just won the ACS singles event two weeks before so I knew I had my hands full. At 2-1 me, she scratched on an 8 ball and I went up 3-1. Tying it 2-2 would have really made for an even tougher match! I won another game but so did she and she started to play VERY well. She had a break and run and almost two other runs, but I was able to get back to the table and at 4-3 me I made a tough out to win (even with the nerves).

I then had a few hours to kill and tried to rest (didn't work) but also just relaxed watching matches.

I played Rebecca Goodnight next at 8pm. I found myself not being able to concentrate/focus and I made careless mistakes and missed balls or shape. I was up 3-2 but she broke and ran nicely to tie the score. She got on the hill first because I made yet another mistake but I was able to get on the hill also after a miss by her on the 8 ball. At 4-4, she was running out but missed a really tough 8 ball and I played super conservatively and played lots of safes - because the out was tough and not a gimme (I had balls tied up and balls in bad spots). When I did finally have ball in hand with only 4 balls left, I completely dogged it on an easy shot (prolly thinking ahead, but also my lack of focus also got me) and she pocketed the 8 well and won 4-5. I was so happy for her but wondered "wtf happened to me?" lol.

I then played Audra Carter next at 11pm. She can play well but sometimes she doesn't (kind of like all of us, lol). I was up 3-1 and made a hell of an out and said under my breath "where was that last match, Melinda?" She took a smoke break (smoking wasn't allowed in the convention center) and when she came back to the table, next thing I knew, she was running out like no one's business! She was making break outs, making tough shots, running out tough racks, etc. She gets on the hill and I am down 4-3. I had a couple of chances to make tough shots, but I didn't make them and she won the match.

I walked away thinking to myself, "well, so much for the BCA Texas State tournament....."

At least I wasn't nervous like I thought I would be in this "title" tournament. Whew!

Also, I never thought "I'm the best, I am gonna win it," never even thought "I could win this," which means I didn't psych myself with stupid thoughts. I just wanted to stay down and play good and I did neither. :( I thought I should've won it [after I was out (lol)], but didn't lose because of mental thoughts (Yay!) - lost because I didn't bear down and get the job done (damn!).

I can honestly say it's been a long time since I felt like this ---> after the tournament that I felt very down on myself and wondered what I was doing playing pool.

Tourney Description: Foolish

However, this feeling changed drastically after I played in two scotch double minis the next night. I'll try and write about that next!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting Ready for BCA Texas State

Have I really not posted since February? Eeek... and three tournaments to still write up.

In the meantime, let me share how I am getting ready for the BCA Texas State 8-Ball tourney.

I love 8 ball, but still need to prepare properly... and since this is a "title" tournament I do a few extra things than normal. Here are the four extra things I have done for this tournament:
  1. Meeting up with 8-ball Champ Jose Zaragosa. We played three races to 5 on Sunday; I only won one set, but learned a lot! We talk about options, safes, run outs, decisions, etc.
  2. Read the 8-ball section of Play Your Best Pool and some sections of Play Your Best EightBall. This is prolly the single best advice I can recommend!
  3. Get rest. Damn I need sleep.
  4. Talk about Pool. I asked Swanson Champion (Mr. Mitch Ellerman ) for some mental advice going into this tournament. Knowledgeable-ass guy for only 22! I have kept his text messages to read before every match this weeked. :)

I haven't received as much sleep as I really wanted, but hopefully tonight and tomorrow night I will get some half-way decent shut-eye.

In the meantime, I have league tonight (8-ball) and need to pack before heading down the Central Texas to the E-Center for the Diamond Tables tomorrow night!

I fully admit "Title Tournaments" freak me out. I also fully admit all the pressure is solely due to my own thoughts and desires. If I remember to stay down (my goal for the year), live in the present, don't worry about status (from Pleasures of Small Motions) and just enjoy playing the game I love, I should at least be okay with my performance, right?